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Pentagon Launches Essay Contest To Glorify Former King Abdullah

By: Monday January 26, 2015 10:41 am

You can’t make this stuff up, actually you have to as only a fictitious rendition of the life of King Abdullah would be in any way flattering. The Department of Defense, on the orders of chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Jack Dempsey, has started an essay competition to “honor King Abdullah.”

Apparently it was not enough that Secretary of State John Kerry showed obnoxious reverence for the former King of Saudi Arabia, now he must be honored by the US military which has had its service members killed by insurgents from and funded by Saudi Arabia during King Abdullah’s reign.

The Pentagon contest will be hosted by National Defense University and the press release for the contest notes King Abdullah’s support of the US-Saudi alliance and calls the the king “a man of remarkable courage” highlighting his service as a royal commander of the Saudi national guard before becoming king.

The king was a lifetime supporter of his country’s alliance with the United States. Abdullah ruled Saudi Arabia from 2005 to his death, and served as regent of the country from 1995. He is succeeded by King Salman Bin Abdul-Aziz. “This is an important opportunity to honor the memory of the king, while also fostering scholarly research on the Arab-Muslim world, and I can think of no better home for such an initiative than NDU,” Dempsey said in a statement announcing the competition.

The competition will focus on issues related to the Arab-Muslim world and is designed to encourage strategic thinking and meaningful research on a crucial part of the world. The program will be in place at NDU for the next academic year, officials said.

King Abdullah’s role in fostering the spread of Wahhabism and permitting Saudi Arabia to become a major hub of funding for the rise of ISIS should likely not be mentioned. Nor the King’s record amount of beheadings and imprisoning of his daughters.

Whether the essay contest is open to women is not specified in the press release.

U.S. Officials Hope To Steer Caribbean Countries Away From Venezuela

By: Monday January 26, 2015 7:15 am

Today Vice President Joseph Biden and other U.S. officials will meet with leaders of Caribbean states in Washington D.C. to discuss new energy initiatives and steer countries away from Venezuela’s influence.

The White House reported the event as an “energy round-table”discussing “a cleaner and more sustainable energy future in the Caribbean through improved energy governance, greater access to finance and donor coordination.” There is no mention of Venezuela, yet the Atlantic Council, a sponsor of the event, explicitly mentions Venezuela as the reason for the meeting.

The Atlantic Council is a think-tank funded by different international companies like Shell Oil and governmental organization like the North Atlantic Trade Organization. In addition, some of its board members and directors include former U.S. officials and current leaders of major firms. It primarily works in securing the interests of NATO.

With individuals like International Monetary Fund director Christine Laguarde and World Bank President Jim Kim appearing, the event will take advantage of low oil prices hurting Venezuela at the current moment. Associated Press journalist Ben Fox wrote, even though Venezuela would not be brought up, “it will be on everyone’s minds.”

Currently, Venezuela provides oil to Caribbean countries through Petrocaribe, which began in 2005 under former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Countries in Petrocaribe can defer payments on oil or trade other commodities for oil for example.

However, due to the drop in oil prices, Venezuelan oil exports are declining. Despite assurances by President Nicolas Maduro the alliance would continue, a decline in state revenue worries Petrocaribe members. Thus, U.S. officials are hoping to persuade nations with their own fossil fuels. Indeed, the Atlantic Council released a report last summer titled “Uncertain Energy: The Caribbean’s Gamble with Venezuela” promoting such views:

Governments should leverage existing market trends and embrace gas as a near-term bridge fuel to promote energy security and facilitate investment in regional interconnection infrastructure.

The report admits Petrocaribe is a Venezuelan success in bolstering ties with Caribbean nations, yet believes it is possible in increasing the role of the U.S. in the Caribbean. In fact, the authors argue, despite the organization set to continue under Venezuelan leadership, the U.S. must take advantages of opportunities:

If the United States stands by and lets these nations risk and potentially endure the fiscal shock, it will simply validate the perception that US policy is more anti-Venezuelan than pro-Caribbean. Therefore, the region needs a US-led multilateral response to set it on a new energy path. By providing assistance in conceiving, financing, and even supplying new energy infrastructure, the
United States and IFIs can lay the groundwork for a more integrated Caribbean and Central America.

Interestingly, David Goldwyn, one of the authors of the report, is noted as “the US Department of State’s special envoy and coordinator for international energy affairs from 2009 to 2011, reporting directly to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.” Goldwyn is noted in the AP story as an organizer for the meeting where other State Department officials will be at.

Goldwyn additionally worked on behalf of dictatorships throughout the world to promote the agenda of oil companies, which is something he declines to highlight. In 2012, he wrote an op-ed for The New York Times where he said a U.S. energy boom could “reduce Caribbean dependence” from other oil sources. In addition to his work at the Atlantic Council, he leads Goldwyn Global Strategies, a firm advising oil and natural gas companies along with “many other hats” as investigative journalist Steve Horn notes.

Maduro told Venezuelans in an address $100 per barrel would not return and “God [would] provide.” Oil provides 95 percent of country’s export revenues and low oil prices only fuel the prospects of a default. After failing to persuade other OPEC members to reduce oil production to increase gas prices, Venezuela faces a grim future with recessions and instability.

Indeed, this may explain why Biden will be appearing today with other leaders of Caribbean states. The U.S. will continue to produce more oil and this helps American foreign policy in the Central American region as Goldwyn points out in his NYT op-ed:

The U.S. and North American oil and gas booms are phenomenal economic windfalls. But security always trumps economics in U.S. foreign policy. The country’s commitment to global security and its vulnerability to global oil prices will keep Washington engaged for the foreseeable future.

What Caribbean leaders will leave with is anyone’s guess as the meeting, but is guaranteed U.S. officials will persuade them in order to preserve “global security.”

Feinstein And McCain Want US Troops In Yemen

By: Monday January 26, 2015 7:11 am

Senators Dianne Feinstein and John McCain both publicly stated that they are in favor of putting US troops smack into the middle of a civil war going on in Yemen. Having apparently learned nothing from the previous decade of faceplants in the Middle East, the senators want to escalate America’s involvement in Yemen from drone strikes to boots on the ground. Previously the drone strike campaign was carried out with the government of Yemen’s support but now there is no real government in Yemen thanks to an insurgency campaign launched by a militant group known as the Houthis.

The Houthis successfully ousted Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi who resigned last Thursday, January 22nd. President Hadi had continued the partnership with the US counterterrorism program, granting the US the right to attack jihadists in the country, principally through drone strikes. Now that Hadi is gone with no replacement the authority for the US to continue its counterterror program is murky with some reports indicating that it has been seriously disrupted.

Enter Feinstein and McCain:

Two influential senators are calling on President Barack Obama to send more U.S. special ops forces to hotspots around the Middle East. The suggestion by Republican John McCain and Democrat Dianne Feinstein is a direct challenge to the president, who has said he doesn’t want to increase the U.S. military presence in Yemen despite the deteriorating security condition in that country.

McCain — a Republican who heads the Senate Armed Services Committee — and Feinstein tell CBS’ “Face the Nation” that special operations forces in particular may be necessary to blunt Iranian influence in various spots in the region. Feinstein, top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, says the U.S. needs more human intelligence in the region and so it won’t rely so heavily on intelligence gathered by technical means.

Blunt Iranian influence? You know what would have blunted Iranian influence? Not overthrowing Saddam Hussein and turning Baghdad over to an Iranian-aligned government – a policy both Feinstein and McCain supported and promoted. Luckily for them the power of incumbency and the campaign contributions they receive from shilling for Big Business has led to there being no consequences for advocating such moronic policies.

Now Feinstein and McCain would like the US to send more ground troops into a country in the middle of a civil war to save a genuinely stupid program in Yemen that has done little but fuel anti-Americanism. There are a lot of reasons to be embarrassed by the US political system, but one of the more obvious reasons is it produces senators like Feinstein and McCain who can’t learn basic lessons from events they were directly involved in.

SYRIZA Achieves Victory in Greek Elections

By: Sunday January 25, 2015 5:10 pm

SYRIZA won 149 seats out of 300 in Greek parliament with more than 75 percent of voters already tallied. While the coalition did not gain the majority, it basically achieved a massive victory after the assault by European elites warning Greeks not to vote for SYRIZA. Thirty-six percent of Greeks voted for the coalition compared [...]

The Weekend Roundup for January 24-25th, 2015

By: Sunday January 25, 2015 3:42 pm

Howdy there folks! It’s the start of a brand new-oh wait, I start class Wednesday. Darn. International Politics Overall – Journalist Max Blumenthal explains to The Real News why Israeli Benjamin Netanyahu is talking in front of U.S. Congress and what he represents; Phyllis Bennis also speaks about this, which can be found here. – Netanyahu admits this [...]

The Roundup for January 23rd, 2015

By: Friday January 23, 2015 8:51 pm

It’s Brazil today! A laid back jam. Although, that’s it in terms of international songs for this week. Tune in March for another international week of music to incorporate more non-Western tunes. International Politics Overall – An interview with anthropologist Scott Atran who explains the profile of a terrorist and where they come from – [...]

FOIA: Department of Justice CCIPS Notes On Aaron Swartz Investigation

By: Friday January 23, 2015 10:16 am

In early 2013 I sent a series of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests out to three government agencies that I knew were investigating the late Aaron Swartz. Swartz committed suicide in January of that year arguably in part due to the harassment he was facing from state authorities. I was not a personal friend [...]

Death of Saudi King Abdullah Brings Reverence From US Establishment

By: Friday January 23, 2015 6:50 am

King Abdullah was a man of wisdom & vision. US has lost a friend & Kingdom of #SaudiArabia, Middle East, and world has lost a revered leader — John Kerry (@JohnKerry) January 23, 2015 Yesterday Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the King of Saudi Arabia, died at the age of 90. His brother, Salman bin [...]

The Roundup for January 22nd, 2015

By: Thursday January 22, 2015 8:56 pm

Hey there folks, we now head to Nigeria. Sorry for the delay, went to Larry Wilmore’s new show in the city. ‘Twas fun. In return, here is a full-stacked Roundup. International Politics Overall – This article is right on how jokes made against Muslims usually end up as propaganda for interventions – William Blum: “Murdering [...]

Poroshenko Tells IMF Ukraine Now Needs $50 Billion As Fascist Militias Threaten Kiev

By: Thursday January 22, 2015 9:39 am

Out of the Mouths of the Neo-Nazis: Dumb and Dumber in Ukraine. — CounterPunch (@NatCounterPunch) January 21, 2015 Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko has reportedly told the IMF his country now needs $50 billion to shore up its finances. Ukraine already reached a bailout agreement with the IMF in April of last year for [...]

Trans-Pacific Partnership Can Be Passed This Year Says Obama’s Asia Representative

By: Thursday January 22, 2015 9:16 am

Evan Medeiros, the Obama administration’s representative in Asia, believes the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could pass this year. Medeiros was at the Brookings Institute for an event and was asked about President Barack Obama’s reference to the free trade agreement during his State of the Union address. Medeiros said the U.S. was “confident” the agreement can [...]

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